Finding yourself hustling and bustling about in your day...everyday? Most of us spend our days running most of the time. Does relaxation sound impossible to do during your days? You've probably been told somewhere by someone to "just breathe". Turns out "just breathing" is a first step in learning how to relax spontaneously. Try it to achieve some serenity and wellness for yourself. Concentrating on your breathing can help you relax within minutes. But this takes practice. Focusing on your breath is a simple and profound what to relax effectively. And it can be done any time you have a few minutes - while waiting in line, sitting in traffic, or during any break in your day.
The unique thing about breathing is that while it is an automatic response, it can also be controlled by your voluntary actions. When you control your breathing it triggers an autonomic responses - decreasing heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, and decreasing adrenaline levels. A bonus of slowed breathing is increased production of endorphins that improve our sense of wellbeing!
Simple Tips for Breathing:
- Use your abdomen to breathe. Most of us use our chest muscles to breathe. The more stressed we are, the shorter and shallower our breath becomes, and we begin to hold more tension in our neck and shoulders. If we relax our breathing, we use our abdominal muscles, mainly the diaphragm. Not sure if you are using your diaphragm? To practice, lie on your back in a comfortable position. Begin to slow your breathing to an easy pace. Place one hand on your abdomen. As you breathe in, try to keep your chest wall still and pull air into your lungs by expanding your abdominal muscles. Your hand should rise and fall with each breath. Continue to breathe through your nose and focus on keeping your inhalations and exhalations equal.
- Slow your breath. Using your abdomen to breathe, extend your breath for as long as possible without actually holding your breath. Your goal is to extend each breath to 15 seconds for both your inhalation and exhalation. Start easy and work up to this slowly. The good news is you can practice this anywhere!
- Count to 10. Another simple breathing exercise is counting to 10. Using abdominal breathing of normal length, begin counting each breath. First count up to 2 and then start over, 1-2-3. Continue with 1-2-3-4, and so on until you are counting 1-10. This requires some concentration and is a great way to relax. Completion of two sequences of 10 often results in deep relaxation along with a lowered pulse rate and normalized blood pressure. An additional benefit is improved focus.